Arriving in Skopje, Macedonia

Required disclaimer:  This is a personal blog and does not reflect the ideas of the Fulbright Commission or any part of the U.S. Government.

Hello from (for the first time) sunny Skopje, Macedonia

Invisible Mountain

Invisible Mountain

We arrived here last Friday in a light snowfall, which continued on and off until yesterday, when it rained.  But today (Monday) the sun is shining, the snow-covered mountains are clearly visible, and I think the air is even warmer.  Meanwhile, the website we used to plan what clothes to bring assures us that it’s raining all day and will start to snow at 6 p.m.  It’s a good thing we used that site instead of reality because we brought warm coats and boots.  However, it apparently had the weather all wrong for the last two weeks and will only be right when it rains or snows.

The nearest major street

The nearest major street

Anyway, Emily N from the University American College Skopje met us at the airport as we expected, but as we went out the door, Silvana G hurled herself at us—and almost got a football-block from Emily who was trying to protect us.  All was soon explained and introductions made.  Apparently, Heinz had failed to tell Silvana we were coming, so she was totally surprised to see us.  We all went back to the studio apartment we had for the first night and then out for coffee in the conveniently-located shopping center about 5 blocks away.  (I had to guess at that—you go to the end of the (dirt) street we are on, turn left for a block on the major one-way street out of town, go through a narrow road to the main four-lane, one-way street into town, and then into the Ramstore parking lot, go halfway around the center and there’s the main entrance.  Once inside there are lots of fascinating stores (and a whole lot of what you’d find in an American shopping center—Timberland, etc.) and upstairs a great food court with really strong tea and coffee, an Italian restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, and an excellent Macedonian restaurant (the only one we’ve eaten at there so far).  Then we went shopping for basics in the enormous supermarket on the ground floor and went back to the apt. for a nap.

Oh, I should say that we spent a day in Vienna before we came here, so we weren’t as jet-lagged as we might have been.  Still we weren’t

Hundertwasser House in Vienna

Hundertwasser House in Vienna

quite here, hence the nap.  Then Heinz and Silvana picked us up for dinner at an excellent Macedonian restaurant.  We had a dozen first courses to share:  lettuce and tomato salad (beautiful red, tasty tomatoes, btw) covered with the ubiquitous white cheese (I’m going to miss this cheese I know already), tarator which was a very thick yoghurt with cucumbers, hummos, etc., etc.  Then we had the dinner which was all meat.  A beef-lamb burger with one cheese inside and another on top, a skinny very tasty and not too spicy sausage, and beefsteak.  Heinz and Silvana also had liver, which we declined.  Then we rolled home to bed.

Saturday Emily picked us up to go to the police station to register.   The formalities over, and of

Still snow

Still snow

course after coffee, we moved from the studio to a wonderful one bedroom.  And then shopping to get some food.  We had a sandwich lunch at home and went shopping again (the milk cartons are very small).  Then Heinz and Silvana came over with a fabulous lemon cake with a sugar glaze and we sat over coffee and cake until our eyes closed.  But I have to tell the story of H&S trying to find where we were living.  We’d given them the address which is walking distance from their house.  Okay, so (remember it’s still snowing and all slush and puddles on the ground) they arrived at #34, which is an old farm mansion and they are ringing the doorbell.  But no one answers.  So Heinz calls on the phone and David says I’ll come downstairs.  David comes downstairs, but no Heinz or Silvana.  Heinz calls again and asks David just to come outside, but David says he can’t because he has his slippers on.  Then David (thinking he knows where Heinz and Silvana are) gives directions again.  So Heinz, who is someplace else entirely, takes off in the wrong direction in the slush, in the snow, with the lovely lemon bundt cake with sugar glaze icing uncovered on a plate.  Oh, I forgot, Silvana is carrying an electric drip coffeepot that they are loaning us while we’re here.  Finally, they decide that the numbers are going the wrong way and go down the street in the opposite direction and see David in the doorway of a large apartment building with no number at all.   Anyway, after a brief visit to the oven, the cake was crisp and delicious.  We each had 3 pieces and decided there was no need for any dinner that night.

Sunday we went to a Latin Mass in an interesting modern Church that I liked

Elizabeth in front of the Latin Cathedral

Elizabeth in front of the Latin Cathedral

but David and Heinz agreed that it was ugly.

Inside the cathedral

The main stained glass window

The main stained glass windowInside the cathedral

I’ll put in a photo so you can decide.  Then met Clarisse for lunch at Ramstore at the Macedonian booth I mentioned—she was most disappointed that we’d already eaten the meats she wanted to show us.  But there was a lovely claypot stew with chicken, tomatoes, and onions.  So now we know three or four foods we really enjoy.  Then home again and then out for pizza with Heinz and Silvana.

I’m going to stop right here because we had another full day on Monday and then the conference started and there is much too much to say all in one entry.

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